Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Linda's on King Street, Newtown

I love passing through Newtown because I always discover new restaurants that pop up and ones that have been there for years that I've never noticed. There are so many along King Street that it's difficult to keep up with what's new and what's not! Linda's On King Street is clearly a local favourite with regulars coming in, already with reservations probably booked weeks ago! We were fortunate enough to snatch a table for two because someone had cancelled. It's a very relaxed setting, beautiful candle holders and everyone is happily chatting over each other. Only downside is that inside the restaurant it is very hot! We're both fanning away and we're so grateful for the cold water given to us. 

Complimentary bread
The bread is fresh and the soft butter spreads easily. It's thoughtful when restaurants provide bread, it can settle the stomach in case it's a long wait for the food to arrive and can be used to soak up any delicious sauce! 

Sweet potato chips with aioli, $6.50
I couldn't get enough of these. I'm craving for them as we speak! Lightly sprinkled with salt, the sweet potato chips were piping hot and ready to be dipped into the velvet aioli. There was a perfect amount of acidity and garlic in the aioli that was the perfect sauce for the very sweet chips. I think we need to start replacing regular potato chips with these! 

Crispy skin roast pork with potatoes and baked apple puree, $28.00
My partner chose one of the specials of the night and it was generous and tasty! I had a taste of it and I found it a little bit salty. The pork skin was crispy and the meat was tender. The potatoes were soft and were nicely roasted on the outside. It was also served with baked apple puree which helped break up the saltiness of the pork. Adding some greens would have probably been better just to lighten the dish and give it some freshness and crunch.

Pan-fried barramundi fillet, saffron potatoes, shellfish broth, mussels, clams and aioli, $29.00
I absolutely devoured my plate of food, it was great! The barramundi was perfectly cooked, the fish was sweet and tender. I actually thought it didn't need the aioli (I know, I can't believe I just said that) because it was flavoursome on its own that it didn't need anything to compliment it. The mussels and clams were plump and juicy. The shellfish broth was quite salty but it was definitely fragrant. The potatoes scream saffron and tastes great with the aioli. There is so much on the plate that I actually don't manage to finish my potatoes. An incredible fish dish!  

Linda's dessert tasting plate, $22.00
I was craving for dessert so I made the executive decision and ordered the dessert tasting plate even though there were speculations and uncertainty that we wouldn't finish it. If it's delicious and you're determined, you can ALWAYS finish dessert. The chocolate mousse with honeycomb was rich and dark. The texture was gloriously smooth and the bitter honeycomb was definitely crunchy. This is definitely how a mousse should be! The raspberry ice cream with fairy floss was a stark contrast to the mousse but it was great to switch between the two. The ice-cream was sour and gave you the inevitable brain freeze. The warm ginger cake with butterscotch sauce was very comforting as the moist ginger cake made my tastebuds settle from the ice-cream's tang. It was slightly burnt on the edge but it a generous slice on its own would be a sufficient winter dessert. The rosewater pannacotta was soft and luscious, the perfect pannacotta consistency - the right amount of gelatin that it would stand up on its own but still melted in the mouth. Of course I left the best for last which was the highly anticipated passionfruit creme brûlée! The caramelised sugar topping was broken with a loud crack where Inside was a silky passionfruit custard with a solid amount of the fruit flavour.  

I couldn't think of a better place to have dinner when you want great (and a bit special) food in a very relaxed atmosphere. The food is cooked well and the flavours all work, you definitely end up getting comfortably immersed in the food and the conversation you have with your company. Linda's On King Street is a lovely little spot that ensures minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment. 

Linda's On King Street
341 King Street

9550 6015

Linda's on King St on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fish on Parkyn, Mooloolaba

Whenever I'm on holidays, whether it be a whole month overseas or just a weekend away, I get a bit adventurous and don't mind going for a bit of a wander, maybe even getting a bit lost. When we stayed at Mooloolaba Beach in Queensland the other weekend, the chilled and breezy vibe was very calming when we ended up getting a bit lost on our way to Fish on Parkyn. The weather was amazing for winter, warm enough to wear a short-sleeve but still a bit cool to not pack the jeans away. The walk ensured we had a large enough appetite to consume the anticipated seafood feast.

Hervey Bay scallops, carrot and coriander and ginger wasabi mayonnaise, half dozen $19.50
These scallops absolutely melted in my mouth - amazing! The scallops were cooked perfectly, sweet and soft but still firm. The carrot puree gave it a slight sweetness and the coriander made it light and refreshing. The ginger wasabi mayonnaise was so tasty and addictive, it gave the scallops that extra bit of creaminess. I could have easily eaten a dozen to myself! We were so tempted to order more but I knew there was going to be lots more food to come! 

BBQ seafood plate - Moreton Bay bug, Mooloolaba prawns, fresh Tasmanian salmon, Hervey Bay scallops, house cut fries, $37.50 
The BBQ seafood was all simply prepared and retained their original flavours as they weren't overpowered by any heavy sauces or seasoning. It was great seeing the scallops again but without the ginger wasabi mayonnaise and coriander, it lacked some of its flavour. The other flavours on the plate were much stronger than the scallops so make sure you eat them first! The prawns were great, juicy and perfectly cooked, not at all grainy. The salmon fillet was delicately cooked and the flesh was softy and silky. Unfortunately there wasn't much meat on the bug so it was a bit difficult to taste or eat anything substantial. I really enjoyed the coleslaw! It was made up of cabbage, rocket and orange segments with a light mayonnaise dressing which worked well with all the seafood. The house cut fries were chunky, crispy yet fluffy inside, just the way I like them! A plentiful plate of seafood and sides!

Tamarind whole snapper with jasmine rice, $42.00 for large fish
As our lovely waitress brought out the fish she apologised that the fish was presented lying on its side because it usually stands up right! It wouldn't have mattered which way it was standing, a whole fish is just mesmerising! There was actually plenty of meat on the fish and it was fun dissecting it, pulling it apart and having a bit of fun getting messy! The fish is soft and the batter is crispy. We couldn't get enough of the tamarind sauce, if only there was more rice to mop it all up!

For those who are staying at Mooloolaba I insist you try Fish on Parkyn for their exceptional food and friendly service. We couldn't have been treated better by our attentive waitress who gave suggestions and always made sure we were enjoying our meal, which of course we did! It's definitely a place for a special occasion but I assure you will have a lovely spoilt evening! 

Fish on Parkyn
20 Parkyn Parade


07 5444 4711

Fish on Parkyn on Urbanspoon

Friday, 23 August 2013

I Love Pho, Crows Nest

Many people judge the quality of a Vietnamese restaurant by its decor, the more dated it is the better the food is but sometimes something a little more modern opens and we should give it a go! I Love Pho was one of those places that you always pass but never think much of it when you walk by or not curious to go inside. It's a pity those places exist because often those are the ones that are worth exploring.

Crispy beef spring rolls, $9.60 
There's something different and brilliant about Vietnamese spring rolls, and it's all in the wrappers. The Vietnamese use rice paper sheets (for fresh and fried spring rolls) instead of an egg based wrapper (hence the Americans calling them 'egg rolls'). It gives a different sort of crispy crunch that I love. The texture reminds me of a thinner version of prawn crackers, where it dissolves slightly when it hits the tongue. The spring roll is filled with vegetables and beef and are still warm when they arrive. The famous Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, is sweet and only has a touch of fish sauce, which I am still trying to perfect at home. 

Green papaya salad, $16.90
The pile of green papaya salad was generous and addictive! The green papaya and carrot have been shredded finely with great crunch and drowned in more nuoc cham. There's also quite a bit of prawns and pieces of pork in the salad. I love piling the salad on the prawn crackers because it's like eating a Vietnamese taco! It's definitely a refreshing and tasty salad that I can eat for any meal of the day. 

Vietnamese crispy pancake, $12.60
The pancake is a hybrid of a pancake and an omelette, encased with lots of veg, prawns and slices of pork. The batter is slightly crispy but is unfortunately drenched in oil! It wasn't that pleasant to eat because every mouthful was flooded with oil. The filling was good, but I think after a while, based on the food we ordered, it all started to taste a bit the same especially since nuoc cham accompanied every dish. The waiter was very lovely and asked if we wanted to the pancake to be divided which we gladly accepted because we would've made a mess!

Rare beef noodle soup, $12.50
The highly anticipated pho came out piping hot along with a plate of bean sprouts, herbs, lemon, sauce and spoons. I tried the broth immediately before anyone threw in hot sauce or chillies, it was sweet and quite mild in flavour. So then I squeezed in the lemon juice and immersed the bean sprouts into the soup. I prefer having that little tang in the pho broth so the add-ons lifted it and made it more flavoursome. 

Caramelised fish hot pot, $25.50
My dad requested to have the caramelised fish hot pot and it was definitely different to what I've had before. The fish had been braised with pork belly meat which were hiding underneath the fish. It's quite a salty dish so it definitely needs to be eaten with some rice ($2/person for unlimited plain white rice). The fish is a bit overcooked but that's expected since it had been braised. It wasn't my favourite dish of the night but I'm glad I tried it because it had flavours I'd never eaten before. Can't knock it till you try it

Upon our arrival to I Love Pho my parents and I were greeted with immensely cheerful and attentive waiters. We immediately felt welcomed and looked after. The attitude of the waitstaff has an enormous influence on your experience at a restaurant, even if the food is exceptional, unfriendly staff will discourage me from returning. Definitely go for the green papaya salad and have a bit of a wander around the menu to get something beyond the usual!

I Love Pho
47 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest

8065 1129

I Love Pho Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Le Pub, Sydney

Whether they be pubs, cafes or restaurant, I love when they're hidden away in alleyways or downstairs where they're slightly secluded and diners have to venture a little beyond just stepping into the front door. The brightly tiled Le Pub sign catches anyone passing by and you are instantly lured to walk down the stairs and into the music of clinking wine glasses. 

The waitress takes us to our table and it is the darkest corner of the gastropub. It's an intimate booth but very dark, we had to steal the candle from the nearby table to see our menus! Even though the rest of the restaurant and pub was quite noisy, it was quiet in our little booth and definitely made it very private and cosy. 

Pie au boeuf bourguignon, $24.00
I've been craving for a pie for a while now and I couldn't be happier to have chosen this to satisfy my pie desires. When the waitress brings this plate piled with comforting goodness my eyes automatically stare at the paris mash, sitting quenelled and beautiful. It's  creamy and there is no doubt butter has been thoroughly whipped into the potato mash. I break the puff pastry case and the aromatic boeuf bourguignon steams out. The pastry is flaky, crispy and the layers within a moist and buttery. I dig into the the boeuf bourguignon and it is heavenly - the perfect winter dish. The beef has been slowly braised, making the meat tender and enriched with the red wine braising liquid. The beef, mushrooms, carrots and ladon are piping hot, and I am instantly comforted. I soak up all the lovely sauce with the pastry and mash, and there is nothing left but crumbs on my plate. Even though we are experiencing 20+ degrees winter days, hot pies are irresistible. 

L'entrecôte, $26.00
Entrecôte is a term that restaurants use for a steak dish, in particular those that are serving French bistro style steak-frites. The 220 grams of scotch fillet is grass fed marble score 2+ from Cape Grim TAS. The meat is cooked to a perfect medium rare, rosy pink and very juicy. The crust has a nice char and is well seasoned. The fries are crispy and fluffy on the inside. The sauce complimenting the steak and fries is Cafe de Paris. When my partner was trying to decide on the sauce the waiter informed us that the Cafe De Paris would have chicken liver in it which made us both a bit puzzled and thought we heard wrong. Lo and behold when the sauce came out, it did have it and it was certainly different to what we've had before. It must have been the chef's little twist to the classic!

Gastropubs are perfect for good food and somewhere to wind down after a long day or week at work. The staff at Le Pub were friendly and helpful. The setting was casual and relaxed. I'm keen to come back to try other items on their menu because I'm convinced they'll be just as good as what we've tasted so far. I love the details that have gone into the decor of the pub, from the stools at the bar to the marble tables. You are no longer in Sydney CBD, but in Paris during the 1800s. 

Le Pub
66 King Street

9262 3277

Le Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, 5 August 2013

Kürtősh, Crows Nest

Kürtősh is one of the very few late night dessert places that isn't an ice-creamery or a frozen yoghurt stand. And it is SUCH a relief that is exists! It's lovely to continue the evening somewhere warm and cosy which doesn't necessarily involve alcohol! But then again I'm a little biased, I choose cake over alcohol any day! 

These are Hungarians' oldest pastries, kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cakes. The first time I had this was at the Kürtősh at Randwick but since they're quite carby and we were full from dinner I gave it a miss this time. But they're great to share with someone - soft sweet bread in a fun curl!     

Mmm cake...

Passionfruit cheesecake (50g) and raspberry & coconut mousse (50g), $4.50/100g  
The beauty about ordering the slab cakes at $4.50/100g is that you can order unlimited types of cake at whatever weight! It's like ordering at the candy bar at the cinemas but with cake which of course is so much better! I've gotten the raspberry & coconut mousse almost every time and I'm not about to stop! The raspberry topping is tangy and contrasts nicely with the smooth coconut mousse. There are coconuts bits in the mousse, giving it texture and heightens the coconut presence. The passionfruit cheesecake is very light and is definitely not a dense cake. It's velvety and the biscuit base is spiced up with ground macadamia nuts. 

Peanut butter & chocolate ganache (100g), $4.50/100g
The peanut butter & chocolate ganache is perfect for all those sweet tooths. It has a chocolate biscuit base, crispy and crunch. The peanut butter cream is light but incredibly rich in flavour so the thin layer is plenty. The chocolate ganache is smooth and is nicely contrasted with the broken pieces of peanuts sprinkled on top. 

I will definitely make the effort next time to try their other slab cakes as there are so many! Of course the more people you go with, the more cakes you can taste so make sure you bring a group with you next time - get someone to buy the kürtőskalá and each of you should get at least 3 different kinds of cake! Only then can you properly say you've had dessert!

Coco Cubano, Crows Nest

There are so many options to have dinner in Crows Nest, it's difficult to choose between the burger joints and Italian restaurants on Willoughby Road, and the Indian and Japanese restaurants on Pacific Highway. The decor of Coco Cubano is very stylish, from the stools and couches to the lights. But the atmosphere remains comfortable and casual. Coco Cubano is still a relatively new eatery and since I haven't tried it and have heard good things, my friend and I decided to give it a go! 

If a restaurant is opened for business for dinner I prefer having table service than placing my order at the counter. The table that was sitting next to us ordered a lot of food and kept on having to get up every time they wanted something else, it felt like their meal was a bit disruptive because of this. Paying at the counter for breakfast and lunch is totally fine but maybe changing it to table service in the evening may give it a better dining experience because currently there is no customer service given. 

Cake cabinet
Table number
Cute table number box but it's a tad big so it takes up a bit of the table. I like the candle because it's safe but a little less romantic than a real one. 

Fajitas with halloumi, tortilla, fresh salsa, salad, guacamole & sour cream, $15.90
I enjoy ordering the vegetarian option when I'm out and about with girlfriends so choosing halloumi for dinner was a no brainer! I was so pleased to find the halloumi not dry and rubbery which I was expecting since I wasn't eating it fresh from the hot pan. It was soft and had that delicious saltiness that I would swap with any meat any day! There were four pieces of tortillas, I'd prefer to have less pieces but bigger in size because it made construction a little bit difficult. I was hoping the guacamole was less pureed, I prefer the avocado taste and texture to be more prominent. The rocket leaves and fresh tomato salsa made it light and probably more suitable for a warmer night. 

Quesadillas with smokey beans, fresh salsa, guacamole, cheese & pickles, $13.90
The quesadillas arrived on a big plank and the serving was huge! The tortilla was toasted so it was crispy and the cheese melted, encasing all the filling. I had a taste of the quesadillas and I thought the filling was all blended together and I couldn't quite taste the different elements. Perhaps if I tried it when it first came out and it was still warm then it would have been a different story. 

I'm keen to go back and try their tapas. I found it to be a very comfortable place to sit and chat for hours with friends over food. And thats exactly what you need for a mid-week hump day dinner - somewhere to chill and look forward to the weekend ahead! 

Coco Cubano
52 Willoughby Rd Cnr Clarke St
Crows Nest 

9437 6257

Also located at Darlinghurst, Kensington, Parramatta and Rouse Hill Town Centre 

Coco Cubano on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Devonshire, Surry Hills

The Devonshire was voted as one of the best valued lunches in SMH Good Food Guide 2013 and I couldn't agree more. They change their Friday lunch menu every week ensuring regular customers are always coming back for something new but with the same sophistication. 

I would suggest diners attending The Devonshire should opt for traveling by public transport because parking is limited to one-hour only. A three-course meal shouldn't be disrupted midway so cars can be relocated! Parking rangers are always on the prowl in Surry Hills. 

The Devonshire's atmosphere changes depending if you're there for lunch or dinner. At lunch it's a little bit more rowdy, conversations can be heard more prominently and plenty of natural sun light comes through the glass doors. However at night it's much more romantic, it's dark and mysterious, everyone is eating by candlelight and you are immediately noticed if you accidentally use your outside voice. 

Wall of mirrors
Each of the mirrors are different from each other and give the illusion of space and mystery. I notice other diners also having difficulty trying not to look at themselves in the mirrors. There are so many of them, it's hard to not look and see if you're make up is  smudged or if you have sauce on your shirt.

Butter, honey butter and fresh bread rolls
The other time I was here, the waitstaff were nice enough to inform us about the different butters but not this time. However the waitress that served us this time was very hostile (as well as to other diners), ungenuine, uninterested and bored when she asked "How was everything?" after each course and she never smiled. It's so important to be a bit lively when you're interacting with customers because they can feel any attitude you have towards them. I understand people have bad days but you're at work and customers don't deserve your insincerity. 

The honey butter is quite sweet, a bit too much for my liking and the regular butter was lovely and velvety. The fresh bread rolls were piping hot! My mum and I were having great difficulty breaking it apart as our finger tips were burning. It was fluffy and soft inside and had a crisp interior. My mum was very tempted to order another roll but I assured her to leave room for our three courses. Additional rolls is an extra $1. 

Smoked Ora King Salmon fishcakes, broccolini, shallot and lemon vinaigrette 
This dish was incredible - a perfect entree! The smoked ora king salmon fishcakes weren't overly smoked but had enough flavour to ascent the salmon. The flakes were soft  and full of flavour. The batter was crunchy and wasn't at all oily. The creamy mayonaise-like sauce complimented the fishcakes well. The broccolini, shallot and lemon vinaigrette was a great contrast to the deep fried fishcakes as it cuts through any possible heaviness from the deep fried fishcakes and lightens it with some tang.

Slow cooked lamb rump, crisp shoulder, quinoa, black olive and rosemary dressing
The lamb rump and shoulder was cooked differently, allowing them to be shown off in the best manner. When the dish first arrived I immediately thought was it was a small serving but as I enjoyed it I realised it was the perfect amount because the lamb was rich. The slow cooked lamb rump is presented like a spring roll, the pastry is thin and encases the tender meat. The crispy shoulder has been seared and cooked to a medium-rare, the meat is moist and juicy. I love the inclusion of quinoa and black olives as it plays with texture. I don't enjoy olives but in this case it has been finely diced and added subtle flavours to the plain quinoa. The rosemary dressing and the unknown cream sauce ties it altogether.
Broccollini with walnut dressing 
We ordered the brocollini as a side to our mains and it tasted great with the lamb. The broccollini was cooked perfectly, tender with a good bite to it. The walnut dressing was incredible, perfect for any vegetable! It brought out the sweetness in the brocollini and gave it enriching flavour. Nut dressings are great with vegetables, almonds are a favourite!

Champagne poached rhubarb, rhubarb jelly, vanilla mousse and nut crumble
It was delightful to finish off the meal with something fruity and light. The champagne poached rhubarb had the right amount of sourness but was a bit difficult to eat, strong force was needed to cut it apart! The vanilla mousse and rhubarb jelly harmonised the sourness with its creaminess and sweet flavour. The nut crumble added crunch. I'm not sure what the quenelle was, tasted like ice cream even though the waitress said it was sorbet - maybe it was! I can never tell the difference between ice cream and creamy sorbet. Is there a difference? 

Despite the unfortunate lack of service, I absolutely love the food at The Devonshire. Their Devonshire tea creme brulee is out of this world, not too sweet, incredibly smooth and the infusion of black tea makes it very unique! I can't wait to come back to The Devonshire for lunch again and be surprised by their delicious creations, and also for their 8-course degustation I am saving for a special occasion. 

The Devonshire  
204 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills 

9698 9427

The Devonshire on Urbanspoon

Friday, 5 July 2013

Salvage Coffee, Atarmon

Sydney Morning Herald released their SMH Good Cafe Guide awards for 2013 last month and Salvage Specialty Coffee was listed as the home of 'Bonsoy best barista', Dan Yee. Unfortunately he was not there the day I visited but I thought the cafe would still be worthwhile trying out. 

We were immediately greeted when they saw us standing outside looking at their menu. Mum and I were planning to only get coffees but it was lunch time so we thought we'd give their food a go. I ordered a soy latte, hoping their other baristas may have gotten some tips from Dan Yee and have the potential to be okay! 

Soy latte, $4.00 and latte, $3.50
As we were waiting for our coffees I noticed they were using Vitasoy cafe soy milk - not Bonsoy. Just because Bonsoy best barista isn't there, why can't they use Bonsoy? That was problem number one. Then our lattes came out in coffee cups not latte glasses - problem number two. Salvage Coffee uses Mecca coffee beans and from my visit to the original cafe, it's pretty good. However our lattes tasted weak and not hot enough - problem number four. There was way too much foam in both coffees, resembling a cappuccino but without the chocolate dusting on top - problem number five. I'm so critical of their coffees because they're associated to something award-winning, they shouldn't be faulting these things. 

We were sitting outside and this tree was hovering over us, every time the wind blew its flowers and leave would fly down, landing on our table, water and coffees. We definitely weren't sitting at the best spot. 

I'm usually pretty patient when it comes to waiting for food, but waiting for 20 minutes for food that doesn't require any actual cooking except for the poached eggs isn't quite acceptable. The food just needs to be plated and the bread toasted, I didn't think it would be that time consuming.  
Sourdough w/ smashed avo, pine nuts, tomato & fresh herbs, $12.00
The sourdough was toasted evenly and very crunchy. I loved the smashed avocado! It was well seasoned, the herbs gave it freshness and the pine nuts worked wonders with it! The tomato was drizzled with oil and sprinkled with seeds. I see the care that has been put into assembling this, but it still doesn't take that long!  

Poached free range eggs w/ cured king salmon, fennel & sourdough, $14.00
Mum and I combined our two lunches together because we felt they were both missing components when eaten on their own. Mum told me the poached eggs were runny but cold. There was a generous amount of cured king salmon, sweet, mild and not at all salty. I ate the rocket and fennel salad with my avo and sourdough and it tasted great. 

I regret not ordering the wagyu sandwich as it looked much more hearty and filling at the same price as my sourdough and avocado. I was a bit disappointed with my visit to Salvage Coffee, I though I would enjoy my experience instead I was left a bit frustrated by the mediocre coffee and the long wait for the food. It's a pity because the wait staff were friendly and the food was tasty. 

Salvage Specialty Coffee
5 Wilkes Ave

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